Why babies are grenades




Chronicling life as a new father to his beautiful firstborn child – daughter Thea – Chris Kerr’s goal is to provide all men experiencing fatherhood for the first time with some invaluable tips and tricks as they are learned – the hard way.

New Dad musings: week one

When I was at primary school, a Second World War veteran with absolutely no child-friendly filter came into our history class and gave us a blood and guts account of his time while fighting in France.

Recalling his first day of war he said: “A grenade exploded right in front of my eyes and totally obliterated a bakery and a dress shop. Oh, and it literally made a Nazi’s head explode”.

Just as half the class started crying, the veteran looked at us and like Aristotle in his prime added: “To this day I wonder how something so small could make such a big impact on the world.”

I had the same thought as I held Thea, my beautiful daughter, for the first time last week.

This tiny baby arrived and instantly changed my world beyond any recognition of what it once was. Unlike the unfortunate German soldier, my world changed for the better and it wasn’t my head that exploded, it was my heart.

All dads know the feeling. As we hold our baby for the first time, we get overwhelmed by feelings of love and an acute sense of responsibility that weighs heavily on our shoulders. It’s the kind of responsibility that changes a man from someone who sees speed limit signs as a target to hit, to a man who drives his wife and baby home from the hospital at 10 mph in a 20 mph zone!

Responsibility is like that. It changes us and it can be hard to carry.

PROUD FATHER: Chris starts to get to know the apple of his eye.

Certainly, our modern society would make you believe that responsibility is a bad thing. People value their own individual rights over their responsibilities towards others. Anything that gets in the way of their freedom to do what they like, when they like, is unacceptable. That’s hard going for new dads (and mums) who can’t even sleep when they want to!

You will have seen these ‘rights over responsibility’ attitudes play out in the extreme during the pandemic – I can think of shop workers being yelled at (daily) for mandating face masks in stores, for example. In those cases, people thought their right not to be slightly inconvenienced was more important than the need to protect the people who were getting seriously ill from Covid-19. Such an attitude is immature, and dare I say, weak and selfish. It is also an attitude that is having a devastating impact on kids now more than any other time in history. As many as 20% of UK kids have an absent dad. That figure rises to 25% in the US. I am sure most of those men are good people but they made a terrible decision – they chose a responsibility-free life over raising a healthy, happy child.

Here’s the thing though. Great men, like you, run towards responsibility and embrace it with open arms. They choose the difficult but right thing to do, over the easier but wrong option. They roll up their sleeves, change nappies, sing (terribly) to their kid in public spaces, feed their kids at 4 am and proudly wear the black rings under their eyes like a badge of honour. They, like former President of the USA Harry Truman, put a plaque on their desk that says: “The Buck Stops Here”.

That’s the great irony of the rights over responsibilities way of life. Those who subscribe to it think that it will make them happy and free. It does – until it doesn’t. The truth is, we cannot live a meaningful, joy-filled life without taking on responsibility, and all the pain and sacrifice that comes with it. There is no greater reflection of that than being a Father.

HAPPY COUPLE: Chris and wife, Alicia, enjoy taking baby Thea for a stroll.

Post Script: Whilst I don’t normally use my columns to make personal announcements, please indulge me this time! I was with my wife, Alicia, during her labour and the birth of her child and I just want to thank her from the bottom of my heart. It wasn’t an easy labour, but I was amazed by her strength, determination and kind heart even in those circumstances. Thea is blessed to have such a wonderful mum.

Tip of the week…

Take paternity leave if you can. You will never get these first weeks with your new baby back. You can also pick up some of the slack for your wife who needs to recover – so make sure you cook all the meals, keep the house clean, and do as many baby chores as you can. You won’t regret it.

Chris Kerr is a Sorted columnist and a senior executive working in the legal profession.

Chris Kerr

Chris is a husband to Alicia and father to Thea, who is the subject of his columns on Fatherhood for Sorted.  In his spare time he works for a national law firm in an executive capacity and provides crisis leadership consultancy support for non-profits across the UK.  He attends Urban Crofters Church in Cardiff.  A keen weekend adventurer, Chris is regularly spotted in the sea or on mountains.

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